Farewell ceremony for
special attack corps
Japanese manga (comic) books and magazines cover a very wide range of topics,
such as business, cooking, golf, history, and numerous academic topics. Many adults
and children read manga on a regular basis, especially when commuting to and
from work or school. One genre of Japanese manga includes stories about World
War II, including special attack corps that
carried out suicide attacks near the end of the war.
Between 1994 and 2001, Combat Comics
published seven stories about different types of special attack corps, such as
suicide attacks by kaiten (manned torpedoes) and ohka (piloted rocket-powered
gliders). Combat Comics
issued an anthology of these stories in Tokkou: The Spirit of Kamikaze
tokubetsu kougekitai, kanzenban (Authentic accounts: Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps, unabridged edition) tells the stories of six individual
pilots in the Navy and Army Special Attack Corps, including Yukio Seki, Saburo
Miyakawa, Toshio Anazawa, Hajime Fujii, Takamasa Senda, and Tatsuo Nakatsuru.
Tokkou no shima 1 (The isle of tokkou 1)
gives a realistic portrayal of training at a kaiten base in late 1944. This
story focuses on the relationship between Yuzo
Watanabe and Lieutenant Junior Grade Sekio Nishina, co-creator of the kaiten
special attack weapon. Tokkou no shima
2 (The isle of tokkou 2) continues the story of Yuzo Watanabe and
his friend Masao Sekiguchi, depicts the first kaiten attack at Ulithi in
November 1944, and shows the sendoff from the island of Otsushima of the
I-53 submarine carrying four kaiten. In
Tokkou no shima
3 (The isle of tokkou
3), I-53 with Watanabe and Sekiguchi aboard gets bombed by five enemy
planes and then gets subjected to many depth charges dropped from three
Tokkou no shima
4 (The isle of tokkou 4) starts with the arrival at
Tanegashima of the heavily damaged I-53 submarine, which at the end of
Volume 3 had escaped three enemy destroyers when Sekiguchi led them away
from the submerged submarine with his kaiten. After completion of repairs,
I-53 continues its mission to Kossol Passage in the Palau Islands with three
remaining kaiten weapons.
Tokkou no shima
5 (The isle of tokkou 5) tells the story of the rescue of Yuzo
Watanabe, pilot of the kaiten that did not launch from the I-53 submarine,
and the submarine's escape from four enemy ships dropping depth charges.
Watanabe returns in depression to the kaiten base at Otsushima, where he
becomes a kaiten instructor after the base commander refuses to assign him
as a pilot on the next kaiten mission from the base.
Tokkou no shima 6 (The Isle of Tokkou 6)
covers kaiten pilot Yuzo Watanabe's five-month stay on Otsushima Base after
he returned alive. He and Commander Itakura, head of the kaiten base, share
their feelings toward the war and the kaiten program. The inner feelings of
the six kaiten pilots aboard the I-53 submarine are revealed in
shima 7 (The Isle of Tokkou 7) as the submarine moves toward an
enemy convoy of 17 ships in the Bashi Channel located between
Taiwan and the northern coast of the Philippines. In
shima 8 (The Isle of Tokkou 8), the I-53 submarine comes under
constant attack by exploding depth charges dropped from two enemy escort
ships, and Yuzo Watanabe's kaiten gets launched.
Chiran, Kanoya ni saita wakazakura (Ah, special attacks: Young cherry blossoms that bloomed in Chiran and
Kanoya) is an anthology of eight stories by different authors about suicide
attack squadrons that made sorties from
air bases in southern Japan. Most
stories were originally published in the 1970s. "Aa
Ioutou" "Ningen gyorai kaiten" ("Ah, Iwo Jima" "Kaiten
human torpedo") is a similar anthology from the same publisher. The
five war manga stories, including one about kaiten pilots and another about
ohka pilots, were originally published from 1968 to 1978.
Sensō to komikku: Kinjirareta senshi
(War and comics: Forbidden war history) contains seven stories of
extreme human suffering of Japanese soldiers during the Pacific War. Two
involve characters in Japan's Special Attack Forces with one story about the
desire of two pilots to avoid their mission of death and another story that
involves tragic loss of life with little effect on the overall course of the
In the manga book entitled Ginga tokkoutai kishuu seri!
(Ginga special attack corps kamikaze attacks!), the first story tells about
a squadron of 16 Ginga (Frances) twin-engined bombers that make a
fictional suicide attack on B-29 air bases in Saipan and Tinian.
taiheiyou kessen!! (Japanese-American Final Battle in Pacific!!) has two stories about special attacks. "Fate's Wake," which depicts the sinking of the heavy
cruiser USS Indianapolis, includes kaiten (manned torpedo) pilots as main characters. "Special
Attack!! Battleship Yamato" portrays the giant battleship's sinking by
Deguchi no nai umi (Sea without exit),
a manga story for teenage girls, tells the love story between a kaiten human
torpedo pilot named Koji Namiki and his girlfriend Minako Narumi. The manga is
based on a 2004 novel by Hideo Yokoyama, and a film was released in September
2006 based on the same novel.
The final manga reviewed in this section has a unique style quite different
than the first two
books. Yoshinori Kobayashi, one of Japan's most popular manga artists, argues
strongly for his nationalist positions in Sensouron (On war)
published in 1998. This popular manga book that sold over 600,000 copies has
three chapters about special attack corps.